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Belfast tours and excursions

Belfast tours

Black Cab tours

Belfast tours don't come better than a Black Cab Tour where witty, knowledgeable guides take tourists to the Peace Wall in West Belfast, an ugly, prison-like concrete and metal barrier built to separate Belfast's Catholic and Protestant communities. Working the Falls and Shankill Roads during the Troubles, cabbies take in both sides of the fence, plus the political murals, in around 90-minutes.

Tel: +44 7702 060 573.
Website: http://www.belfastblackcabtours.co.uk

Pub tour

An essential part of Belfast nightlife is its historic pubs. A good introduction is provided by the Belfast Pub Tour, which visits evergreen favourite such as Bittles Bar, Kelly's Cellars, Maddens, McHugh's and White's Tavern. Each tour features five pubs, stopping in a couple for a tipple. Tours last 2 hours.

Tel: +44 28 9268 3665.
Website: http://www.belfastpubtours.com

Belfast excursions

Giant's Causeway

Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant's Causeway, is a 90-minute drive from Belfast. According to local legend, two feuding giants from Ireland and Scotland built the Causeway so they could travel across the sea to do battle. Formed around 65 million years ago by the cooling of volcanic rock, this unique geological feature consists of a protrusion of basalt hexagonal columns jutting into the sea. The local coastline and scenery are also spectacular but don't miss Lacada Point where the Girona, a Neapolitan galleass which was part of the Spanish Armada, sank in 1588 killing all 1,200 men on-board.

Tel: +44 28 2073 1855.
Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway

Bushmills Distillery

Bushmills is Ireland's oldest whiskey distillery and a visit is often included in a County Antrim tour. Every bottle begins life with un-peated malted barley, which means it's dried with hot air rather than over a peat fire, so the whiskey is free from the smoky flavour often associated with other drams. Tours take in the Mixing Room, the Fermentation Halls and the Distillery, but the best part is trying the different whiskeys at the end.

Tel: +44 28 207 33218.
Website: http://www.bushmills.com

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Tara Lodge

Located in the heart of the Queens Quarter, near the vivacious Botanic Avenue, this stylish 4-star hotel offers affordable luxury. With 34 rooms to choose from, all come with comfy beds, white and gold furnishings and large bathrooms. The breakfasts are pretty decent too.

Ten Square Hotel

Located just steps from City Hall, this 22-room boutique hotel is set within a Grade I listed building. Offering sophisticated interiors, with baroque touches and colonial finishes, its sleeping quarters stick to the modern. Cubist art and chaise longue make rooms unique, while its renowned restaurant is worth booking too.

Ravenhill House

This beautifully restored Victorian guesthouse, near leafy Ormeau Park, is a 10-minute bus ride from the city centre. With only five guest bedrooms, it exudes a homely, intimate ambience. Each room has handcrafted furniture and there is a library of books and music, plus Wi-Fi and award-winning organic breakfasts.

Malmaison Belfast

Occupying a handsome converted mid-19th-century seed warehouse in the Cathedral Quarter, Malmaison is a stylish boutique hotel that combines period features (iron pillars, beams and stone-carved gargoyles) with its trademark contemporary style (Bordello-style bedrooms with mood lighting). Expect long, heavy velvet drapes, red and purple over-sized suede chairs, and a sleek bar.

The Merchant Hotel

One of the city's most luxurious stays is the sumptuous Merchant Hotel built in 1860 as the Italianate headquarters of The Ulster Bank. Located in the Cathedral Quarter, the Grade 1 listed property features classically styled interiors, sculptures and antiques throughout. The pièce de résistance is the stunning Great Room Restaurant where meals, including traditional afternoon teas, are served beneath its grand dome.

The Old Rectory

Originally a Church of Ireland rectory, built in 1896, this charming guesthouse is a 10-minute bus ride to Queen's University and the city centre. It features award-winning, locally sourced, organic breakfasts and serves a light supper and complimentary Irish whiskey every night. Free Wi-Fi and internet access are also available.